Biden picks Fed Gov. Jefferson for vice chair, nominates first Latina to Fed Board

President Biden nominated Federal Reserve Gov. Philip Jefferson to serve as vice chair of the central bank Friday. The White House also announced its intention to nominate Fed Gov. Lisa Cook to a full term and nominate Dr. Adriana Kugler, a former World Bank executive, as the Fed’s first Latina board member.

Bloomberg News

President Joe Biden has tapped Philip Jefferson for the number two position on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. 

If confirmed, Jefferson, who joined the board last year, will succeed former Gov. Lael Brainard as the Fed’s vice chair. Brainard vacated the position to lead the National Economic Council in February. 

A former administrator at Davidson College, Jefferson has held several prominent positions in academia, served as a staff economist for the Fed Board of Governors and served on the advisory board of the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Last year, the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 91-7 to fill a seat on the board with a term ending in 2036. 

The White House also said it would nominate Fed Gov. Lisa Cook for a full term on the Board of Governors and Adriana Kugler, an executive director at the World Bank Group, to fill the vacancy created by Brainard’s departure. 

“These nominees understand that this job is not a partisan one, but one that plays a critical role in pursuing maximum employment, maintaining price stability, and supervising many of our nation’s financial institutions,” Biden said in a written statement. “I am confident these nominees will help build upon the historically strong economic recovery we have had under my Administration.”

Cook, a former professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, joined the Board of Governors along with Jefferson last summer, taking on a seat with a term expiring next year. 

Cook became the first Black woman to be appointed to the Fed Board of Governors. But she was confirmed by a much narrower margin in the Senate than Jefferson, requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a decisive vote in her favor after the chamber was split 50-50 on her appointment, with every Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee voting against her.

Following the White House announcement on Friday, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said all three picks would be carefully scrutinized by the committee. 

“It is critical during these inflationary times that Federal Reserve nominees are exceptionally qualified,” Scott said in a statement. “I look forward to thoroughly vetting these nominees and determining if they are equipped to address our nation’s economic challenges.”

Along with her role at the World Bank, Kugler is also a professor at Georgetown University and served as the chief economist at the Department of Labor during the Obama administration. 

Kugler, who is Colombian-American, is believed to be the first person of Latin American ancestry to be nominated to the Board of Governors. Lawmakers, led by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., have been calling for someone of Hispanic descent to be named either to the Board of Governors or to the presidency of one of the regional Federal Reserve Banks. 

Menendez, who had been a vocal critic of the Biden administration and the Fed for the central bank’s lack of representation, praised the nominees on Friday. 

“With today’s announcement, we are ushering in a new chapter at the Federal Reserve, which for 109 years has never had Latinos or Latinas in the upper echelons of its leadership,” he said in a statement. “We are finally giving Latinos, all 62 million of us who call this country home, a seat at the table where the most consequential decisions on monetary policy are made, and I for one will make it my personal mission to help ensure swift confirmations for Jefferson, Cook, and Kugler.”

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